Susie Ma, Founder & CEO of Tropic Skincare and nominee for the Veuve Clicquot New Generation Award tells us what inspires her in business.
Now in its sixth year, this award recognises the pioneers of tomorrow’s successful businesses and continues to be synonymous with unearthing and celebrating exciting new female talent in the UK.
What do you currently do?
I’m the Founder and CEO of Tropic Skincare. At Tropic, we do everything under one roof, including formulating, manufacturing, packaging and dispatching the products. Our Beauty Kitchen is supercharged by our teams of talented Beauty Chefs and Product Perfectionists to ensure only the freshest skincare reaches our customers.
We also have our office within the same building, which encompasses marketing, accounts, customer support and quality control. I’m involved in every part of the business on some level, so my job is to keep those plates spinning, and propel the business forward. I wear lots of different hats to keep the business running smoothly!
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I started the company when I was just 15 years old, after my mum and I moved to London from Australia. Soon afterwards, we were struggling to make ends meet so, to contribute to the household bills, I decided to take the plunge and start my own business.
I started to make, package and sell a fresh, natural and tropical body scrub from a family recipe we used in Australia. I took to Greenwich Market with a mixture of apprehension and determination, and on my first day I sold out of my body scrubs, which covered a whole month’s bills.
So, I kept going. I would whip up my body scrubs after school and on weekends, and even employed my friends to cover the London markets. Tropic was a runaway success, and by the time I was 21, I had bought my mum a house, funded my studies at university, and purchased my first investment property.
Who do you admire?
I am so fortunate to have so many people around me, both in business and in my personal life, to draw inspiration from. My mum has always been one of my role models, who I deeply admire. She turns 60 this year, and is still as youthful as friends my age. She’s always smiling and has barely aged since I was a little girl – it must be something in the nourishing, replenishing natural skincare products she uses!
There are so many women in the business world I admire, one being the owner of Spanx, Sara Blakely. As the sole owner the company, she is so connected to it, something I feel is so important in the successful running of a business. She’s also just very down to earth, despite her incredible success, and with 4 kids, Sara really does prove that business women can have it all!
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
When I first started out, my journey was very solitary. I wish I’d connected with other entrepreneurs in the earlier days of Tropic, as I know now how important it is to hear from other people who’ve been on similar journeys to you.
In 2017, I took part in the first stage of the Virgin Strive Challenge, an intensive, multi-stage charity expedition, which saw me mountain bike through Morocco’s Atlas Mountains.
For a few days, I was surrounded by entrepreneurs with incredible experiences and insights to share. It wasn’t until I started to spend time with truly inspiring people in the business world that I really found the confidence to make some key decisions for the business that really helped it flourish.
What defines your way of doing business?
I have made it my mission in business to always be considerate and focused. Devising our Infinite Purpose – to help create a healthier, greener, more empowered world – has really helped me to define these two key aspects of how I operate. Everything we do as a business takes this purpose into consideration, which in turn helps to keep everyone focused on achieving our mission together.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Don’t be a budding entrepreneur, just bloom! It can be tempting to try and get everything perfect before launching a business, but any entrepreneur will tell you that a state of perfection is very elusive, and those goal posts can keep moving indefinitely. Be resourceful, grasp the nettle, and go for it.